Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire (May 3, 1951 March 26, 2019), a.k.a. the "Queen of Eldritch Horror," was a modern Cthulhu Mythos author of prose poems, short stories, and novellas, known for his original setting of Sesqua Valley and its unusual inhabitants who were born from the mountain mist. He was widely considered one of the most important Lovecraftians working today and had won praise from Thomas Ligotti, S.T. Joshi, and Laird Barron. Pugmire sadly passed away in early 2019.
Pugmire had been described as a "strange and beautiful person", which is certainly reflected in his eerie, haunting prose, evocative moods, and dark themes. It is often said that his work is not for everyone, although many readers will be richly rewarded.
- Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts (2003)
- The Fungal Stain and Other Dreams (2006)
- Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts (2008)
- Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley (2009)
- The Tangled Muse (2010)
- Gathered Dust and Others (2011)
- Some Unknown Gulf of Night (2011)
- The Strange Dark One: Tales of Nyarlathotep (2012)
- Uncommon Places (2012)
- Encounters with Enoch Coffin (2013)
- Bohemians of Sesqua Valley (2013)
Tropes found in Pugmire's works include:
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: All over the place. Many of the stories are set from a Sesquan point of view, in which humans are insignificant in the face of cosmic vastness and eldritch magick.
- Camp Gay: The author himself.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Though much more subdued and elegant than the usual.
- Eldritch Abomination: Many references are made to familiar Lovecraftian monsters.
- Eldritch Location: Sesqua Valley is only visible to people with the right mindset and has a lot of mind-bending properties. There are also a lot of extradimensional pockets and dreamscapes.
- Everyone Is Gay: Word of God is that everyone in Sesqua Valley is LGBT, although he tries to be subtle about it.
- Fair Folk: The inhuman natives of Sesqua Valley have many similarities to traditional fairies, especially in their at times maliciously playful relationship with humans.
- Fish People: The Deep Ones appear in a couple of stories. Pugmire has said that he would like to do a whole novella set in Innsmouth.
- Humanoid Abomination: Nyarlathotep is Pugmire's favorite character and is the subject of a whole book. There's also a recurring character named Selene, who is some sort of sister to Nyarlathotep, and appears as a woman with near-black skin and flowing red hair.
- Lovecraft Country: Kingsport, Dunwich, and Innsmouth all make their appearances.
- New Weird: His work combines Gothic fiction, cosmic horror, and some elements of fantasy.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Several stories feature characters brought back from the dead but have their original minds and personalities intact. One passes herself off as simply disfigured to hide the effects of necromancy gone wrong.
- Perspective Flip: Many of his works are from the point of view of Lovecraftian beings themselves or are at least sympathetic to them.
- Purple Prose: But done right.
- Taken for Granite: Happens to one hapless outsider in The Fungal Stain (it's actually on the cover of the book).
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: Sesqua Valley has a whole library of these. Also many references to the Necronomicon.